The policy committee of the Cumberland County Board of Education will take up proposed changes to the extracurricular drug testing policy again this week, after the full board of education was unable to come to consensus on removing younger grades from the testing requirement.
"I hate to see us move away from the junior high drug screening," said Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative. "I think it's a deterrent. I think it's a positive thing to have in place. I also believe it's all in the implementation of the screening process."
When the policy committee began discussing the policy changes in May, there had not been a junior high student test positive for drug use, though it was reported at the June 26 meeting one junior high student had tested positive after that initial discussion took place.
Other reasons for requesting the change in grades tested included how the age of the students makes the process uncomfortable and time consuming, especially for female students who may be experiencing biological changes.
Tammy Stewart, coordinated school health supervisor, reported some students have cried due to the stress they feel under the random drug testing process.
Schlafer said it needed to be made clear to parents that participating in the random drug testing program was voluntary and it required parental or guardian consent to include a child's name in the testing pool.
"If it is upsetting to them [parents], they should opt out," Schlafer said.
Also at issue was how a first offense was to be treated. The policy allows students who test positive to seek treatment and counseling and not have to set out of extracurricular activities for a year, so long as they complete the program and do not have a second, positive test. There was confusion on if a student could continue to participate while completing a program.
Schlafer said, "I don't believe this policy is constructed to be a 'gotcha.' I think it is constructed to get your attention and we've got to do something."
Gordon Davis, 5th District representative, said he could see both sides of the first offense issue.
Josh Stone, 4th District representative, said, "I don't think two weeks is necessarily a gotcha. But there are consequences to bad choices. That's a bad choice and there should be consequences."
The board referred the policy back to the policy committee for further discussion. The policy committee will meet Thursday at 4:30 and extra-curricular drug testing will again be on the agenda. The public is welcome to attend. The meeting is held at Central Services office on Fourth St.
The board approved first reading of policy changes for tobacco-free schools; instructional resources and materials; student equal access; recognition of religious beliefs, customs and holidays; and attendance to comply with changes to state law and recommendations from TSBA.
Second and final reading of the dress code policy was approved, which included changes in permitted clothing to stay current with fashion trends.